We often talk about how important bedtime is for little ones, especially as they return to school or begin a summer program. It has been made more difficult by the stay–at–home routines many of us have adapted to in recent years. Hopefully, you have been able to keep to some routine. If you have relaxed yours lately, now might be a good time to get back into the swing of things by giving your child some structure and taking some time for yourself.
Making the transition should start with your child’s participation. Explain that we need to get our bedtime organized so we all get plenty of sleep. Ask your child how we can do that. You might be surprised by the answers. Being involved in the solution will help your child buy into the changes more easily. For younger children, give them a couple of choices such as “Which should we do first – brush our teeth and then get into our PJs or get into our PJs first?”
Here are five more tips to help you along the way:
- Have an actual lights–out time and stick to it.
- Try to eat an earlier dinner not too close to bedtime.
- Keep after–dinner activities to a minimum, slowing the pace as you get closer to bedtime. Watch a favorite show together, play a simple board game or work a puzzle.
- Set up a routine chart for older children who can check off each activity as they go.
- Make time for a calming moment – reading a story, talking about the day, planning for tomorrow or doing a few fun yoga poses together before jumping under the covers.
Research has shown that when children don’t get enough sleep it has a negative effect on their attention span, behavior and emotions. Routines play an important role in helping your child get the sleep he or she needs. We hope you can get some rest as well.